Privacy SOS

Here is how Boston’s police department uses surveillance technology

Last year, the Boston City Council unanimously approved an ordinance giving the council control over how the Boston Police Department acquires and uses surveillance technology. Now, for the first time, the public can see a full list of all the surveillance technologies and databases used by the Boston Police Department and other city entities subject to the ordinance.

In compliance with the ordinance, the Wu administration sent the following documents to the City Council:

The ACLU of Massachusetts, Muslim Justice League, and Digital Fourth reviewed these materials and sent a letter to the Wu administration seeking further details. We are awaiting a response.

The next step in the process will likely be a series of City Council hearings to discuss the surveillance technologies currently used by the Boston Police Department. City Councilor Michael Flaherty is responsible for leading this process, from his position as Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice.

The ACLU and our partners have been in communication with Councilor Flaherty about this process and we understand the Chair plans to hold a hearing November 21, 2022 at 10am to receive public comment on the City’s surveillance disclosures and discuss the submissions with the Police Department and other agencies. As soon as that hearing is noticed, the ACLU will post information about how to sign up to testify. We encourage Boston residents and other concerned parties to read through the documents linked above and to come to that hearing prepared to share your views and questions for the administration and the council. Ensuring Boston’s surveillance practices are aligned with community needs is a process that will require input from all of us. Get involved!

© 2023 ACLU of Massachusetts.